Thanks to Leigh-Ann's helpful business advice and guidance, my Jewelry business has grown immensely since I took the Indie class over a year ago (you can check out my shop here). And my blog design work has gotten better and stronger as I've worked with more lovely clients through Freckled Nest and have gleaned the wisdom and encouragement I needed from my dear friend Leigh-Ann. I love this girl!
So, the first thing I recommend to get your confidence and productivity levels all reved up in the morning is "get ready every morning as if you were leaving the house!" I am the sort of person who really really likes staying in bed in the morning :) And I could easily just wear my pjs all day long as I work at home. But I find that if I let myself slowly wake up, slowly saunter into the kitchen to get breakfast, slowly slink into my workspace while still in my jammies, put off taking a shower, I just feel like a mess and end up having an entirely disorganized day. So, even if I know I don't have a reason to leave the house that day, I try to wake up at the same time everyday, eat breakfast, and hop in the shower as soon as I can. I pick out an outfit I really like, even picking out the shoes and coat that look best and I put it all on. Yep, I even put on the shoes though I am not leaving the house. I usually end up taking off my shoes when I walk over to my desk to start working. But the simple fact that I have visual proof that I took the time to take care of myself in the morning through what I am wearing, and the physical feeling of putting on a good pair of shoes help me feel prepared and confident to take on the work day. And, if I need to run out of the house later in the day, I'm ready to go!
Making sure you are investing in yourself straight away in the morning is KEY to be productive. If you feel crappy, chances are, your work day will feel much harder and more exhausting. Take the time in the morning to make yourself feel confident and beautiful even if no one sees you. This is all about YOU feeling ready to take on your world, even if the only world you are facing that day is the world of the web :)
I go crazy if I try to work on one project all day, all week long. My mind feels so much more refreshed if I work on projects in 2-3 hour intervals. For me that means in one day I can work on a blog design for 2-3 hours, get up and get a snack, package some jewelry for 2-3 hours, go rock climbing at the climbing gym for an hour, drive over and mail the packages, design some jewelry for an hour, go to a coffeeshop for 3 hours and bring my laptop to work on some blog posts, paying bills, freelance illustration, or answering emails. Every so often I get the urge to just totally focus on one project all day long at home, but zoning in on one thing all day long on day to day basis would make me stir crazy.
If you are running your own business, doing freelance work, or any other work from home sort of job, you probably have a few different elements of your job that you can use as variety in your work day. Say if you are an Etsy shop owner, you can craft your goods for 3 hours, answer some emails for an hour, do a photo shoot for an hour, pay some bills for an hour, hangout at a coffeeshop with your laptop and research ways to advertise for an hour, do your accounting for an hour, package your sold items for a few hours, list some new items for an hour. There are lots of ways to create variety in your day if you simply brainstorm about the different elements of your work. And the elements of your job that you don't like feel like less of a burden if you mix them in between the parts of your job you love :)
If you have any other friends who work from home, plan a work date with them! My best friend does research work from home so she often comes over to my house and works on her laptop while I work away at design work or jewelry. I also have a friend who hosts a weekly craft night. I often bring jewelry projects over to work on or even my laptop to work on design work or illustrations while everyone hangs out, crafts and chats. It adds fun and variety into my long days that are usually spent alone. Try searching out other people in your community who are self employed and plan a work date at your house or a coffeeshop!
And don't forget, you need 3 healthy meals, moments of rest, and at least 30 mins of exercise everyday to get your energy and focus going. Think of meals and exercise time as treats. They are great breaks in a monotonous workday :)
To have a productive day, I have to have a list of everything I need to get done that day right beside me so that I can check off each task when they are finished. I prefer to write it down in a big notebook, but many people prefer to create their lists online or on their desktop. Here are some programs that I recommend checking out to create lists for your daily/weekly/monthly goals and tasks that are hosted on your computer or on the web: Wunderlist, Evernote, and Teuxdeux. Sometimes when I feel like I have been getting especially distracted while I work, or I just need to track how many hours I have spent on a projects, I use a free online timesheet to track my hourly progress. I use Clockbeat though I know there are lots of other online timesheet programs to choose from if you just search "online timesheets" (LA likes Toggl!!).
I think it is really important to set a few different types of goals for yourself as a self employed person to keep yourself constantly motivated and productive. Ask yourself everyday, "What do I want to accomplish today?" It can be as small as, I'll respond to a bunch of emails to finishing a huge project. Take pride in your daily accomplishments no matter how big or small they are. Pride in yourself and your efforts greatly aides in your productivity. Ask yourself weekly and monthly, "What do I want to accomplish this week/month?"post a weekly/monthly calender somewhere where you see it ALL the time so you are constantly reminded of your goals.
Dream big and create a list of things you hope to accomplish this year or within the next few years. Mix in those dreams that feel far fetched with the ones you know you can accomplish, and maybe some of those far fetch dreams will turn into realities too :) Post this list next to your monthly/weekly calendar.
DO NOT forget to to have small and large goals in your personal life outside of your work life. Self employed people can often work themselves toooo hard, feeling guilty when they let themselves relax and unwind. Don't do that! If you constantly work yourself to the bone and never have fun, you will always be drained and slow while you work. If you give yourself goals of, "I'm going to have lunch with Katie on Wednesday" or "I'm going to take a road trip with my boyfriend in June" you will feel so much more excited to power through your work, achieving work goals while you aim for your personal goal. You need fun, friendship, relaxation, family, and adventure outside of your life so you don't turn into a grumpy slow workaholic. And those you love deserve your attention too. So allow yourself to get excited about your personal fulfillment goals so that working hard on your work goals has even more meaning. Create a monthly/weekly calendar of JUST personal goals and post it next to your 2 other calendars.
ps. You can keep up with my constant creative flow and silly antics by following my twitter! I look forward to connecting with you!